Naughty or nice? Playing video games can bring positive reflexes to mental health

A study from the University of Oxford highlights a positive relationship between games and the psychological well-being of users; experts evaluate models and make reservations

Mental reflexes can vary depending on the dynamics, objectives and missions involved in each game

the games of video game can be positive for Mental Health users. This is what the research conducted by the Oxford University, United Kingdom. Contrary to common sense, which shows concern about the influence of games on young people, in particular, the study published in November 2020 shows that there is a small relationship between the entertainment model and the mental well-being of users, in addition to aspects favorable to sociability. The research analyzed the reflection of games in the lives of three thousand adult gamers and the understanding is that the cooperation model proposed by the Games it creates a “social context”, which becomes a reasonable alternative for living in society, explains the psychologist Luiz Mafle, doctor in psychology from the PUC Minas and the University of Geneva. “We can understand that when there is some cooperation, and these are games that are not going to show a lot of competition between users, that has an advantage, because there is something beyond the game, which goes social. Within that universe, it makes contact possible, which is good for mental health,” says Mafle.

In 2018, a World Health Organization (WHO) even came out saying that “gaming disorder” is an addictive behavior and classified addiction as a disease. However, the Oxford research shows an opposite scenario, with positive results for those involved, albeit preliminary. So, in fact, Are games good or bad for the psyche of players? Among the experts, the assessment is that there is no single answer to the question, since the mental reflexes can vary in each dynamic, from the objectives and missions involved in each phase and in each model of gamification. There are games that contribute to sociability, with the cognitive and memory capacity of the users, with spatial skills, teamwork and even decision-making, being indicated by psychologists as alternative treatments, explains psychologist Vanessa Gebrim. “It helps with sociability, it helps a lot in that sense and there are also other factors in which video games help, but it’s very serious to say that it helps mental health, because if you don’t Do not use in moderation, it can be harmful, in extreme cases it can become addictive, harm sleep and the body, cause fatigue and stress as well.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the research analyzed users of two games considered “social”: Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” and “Plants vs. Zombies” from Electronic Arts, developed without any violent character, which minimizes the possible negative impacts on the mental health of those involved. However, violent games tend to “desensitize the person from society” and the thinking in the study would be different. “A person can catch this behavior [do jogo]in a process of social learning and wanting to replicate it in society, which is very worrying”, points out the psychologist Luiz Mafle. In other words, Professor Andy Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, acknowledges that research results do not mean that “all video games are good” or that “all players benefit from them”, but the data is considered the first step for science to understand the true impact of games on the mental well-being.” The discussion about video games has focused on the fear that a large proportion of gamers will become addicted, and our findings challenge this view. [Eles] suggest that gambling can be an activity that has a positive link to people’s mental health – and gambling regulation can retain these benefits.

If for science the results are positive, among game developers the evaluations are also favorable. Rogério Felix, director of training and game development at ZION, a training school for game developers, points out that games are taking “another proportion”, abandoning the role of simple pleasure and becoming platforms for simulation, training , immersion and socialization”. “I have no doubt that it will strengthen the gaming market more and more, because several ongoing studies prove that the The right game, at the right time, done the right way, and applied the right way, can create great results. The biggest concern we need to take is how to choose the game, the workload that student will enjoy the game, also understand the family culture», completes Felix.

The Other Side: Child Alert

Although the Oxford study points out that the use of adult games can bring well-being to users, experts warn that one should be aware of the Child audience. The specialist in neuroscience and child development at Projeto Pigmeu Ana Macedo explains that in children, play reflexes can be contrary. According to her, in early childhood, the use of screens should be zero and games should focus on the “motor, sound, cognitive and social skills of the child”. In adolescents, the concern is about the release in the brain of “addictive substances responsible for activating the rapid gratification system”, which can lead the player to a false sense of predictability and control of the virtual world unlike the real world, which generates frustration. “The limits between fun and addiction are difficult to define”, begins Ana Macedo, who indicates the best games for moments of free time. “Choose games related to language development or exploring the natural world. These games would be more productive and provide more solid and useful benefits for healthy development,” he adds.

Another necessary attention, and one of the biggest concerns of families – and psychologists – is with the escape, especially in adolescence. In other words, the practice of users using games as an “exit valve” from reality, a worrying situation, as it can limit the development of social skills and alienate that individual from family and self- saying “real world”. . “Any situation that we put as a solution to avoid social contact and the challenges that arise is very worrying, because living in society requires us, all the time, to negotiate, rehabilitate and create new skills. And hiding behind games can be a possibility to limit development. So, on the one hand, games can be positive, but if not moderated, they can cause harm. It is useless for the person to have virtual contact, but to stop doing other things on a daily basis”, reinforces psychologist Vanessa Gebrim.

Naughty or nice: how to evaluate?

According to experts, two points must be analyzed to assess whether a game is positive or negative for mental well-being: the style of play and the age of the player, explains psychologist Luiz Mafle. “There are games that will offer sociability, there are games that will offer competition, others greater individual skill and at all times this is what is important for society as a whole. So in each context we’re going to look at: does this competition isolate them from society? Is it a game that seeks addiction to keep the person trapped? How old is the person using the game? Are you a child of 7 years old or a teenager up to 14 years old? Would it be a privilege for him to enter the game or a problem of sociability? So these two points: how much the game is created to keep the person more trapped in inside, avoiding social contacts, and how old the person is, then these developments are made with more quality for society.

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